Five flyers from days that changed America
Here we take a look at five flyers, posters and placards from days that changed US history.
5. Lexington and Concord (1775)
Lexington and Concord were the first battles of the American revolutionary war. Legend has it that the skirmish began after a single shot was fired by an unknown gunman, recounted by poet Ralph Waldo Emerson as “the short heard around the world”.
In the aftermath of the battles, a Boston-based printer named Ezekiel Russell produced this broadside condemning the “Bloody Butchery by the British Troops”.
The lot displays 40 coffins, commemorating the American lives lost, and an account of the day’s events. It was sold throughout Massachusetts and proved a hugely popular and effective piece of propaganda.
This rare example sold for $118,750 at Bonhams New York earlier this year.
4. Lincoln assassination (1865)
Lincoln’s assassination at a theatre in Washington DC in 1865 undoubtedly ranks as one of the biggest events in American history.
The president was watching Our American Cousin when he was shot by an unknown gunman (later identified as John Wilkes Booth). He was the first of four US presidents to be assassinated in office.
This flyer was posted up in the aftermath of the murder and identifies Booth along with two other conspirators in the plot. It offers a combined reward of $100,000 ($1.5m today) for their capture.
This copy sold for $40,000 at Christie’s New York in 2009.
3. Buddy Holly’s last concert (1959)
Image: Heritage Auctions
Buddy Holly played his last ever concert at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. The show was a last minute addition to the tour, with the result that there were few posters printed.
The drive had been a miserable one and it was decided that the groups would pool their money to charter a plane to the next event in Minnesota.
Holly hopped in along with touring partners Richie Valens and The Big Bopper while their band members drove on through the night. The three stars never arrived.
This example is thought to have been torn from the wall of the venue by a fan and was sold for $7,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2012.
2. Martin Luther King’s assassination (1968)
Image: Swann Auction Galleries
Martin Luther King’s assassination at Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968 led to riots across the US.
His death was a huge blow to the civil rights movement and anger was widespread, with many convinced that the government was behind the murder.
This placard was printed by the sanitation workers of Memphis the following day and was carried on a silent march through the city.
King had been in town to support them in their strike action following the death of two workers in an industrial accident.
It sold for $1,300 at Swann Auction Galleries in 2006.
1. 9/11 (2001)
Image: The Written Word Autographs
This is a signed transcript of George W Bush's proclamation following the September 11 attacks, arguably the most significant event in the history of the 21st century so far.
It reads in part: “On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked America in a series of despicable acts of war... causing great loss of life and tremendous damage.
“Civilized people around the world denounce the evildoers who devised and executed these terrible attacks”.
This copy sold for $2,200 at The Written Word Autographs in 2008.
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